Thomas Murphy - Pine Shores Real Estate



Posted by Thomas Murphy on 5/27/2018

One feature new homeowners most look forward to adding is a backyard garden. Afterall, is there anything better than a homegrown tomato or zucchini?

Another benefit of homeownership is the ability to start a compost heap for your garden. By skipping chemical fertilizers in favor of compost you will not only have a great way to recycle yard and kitchen scraps but also naturally replenish the soil. This leads to healthier plants, a healthier you and little by little a healthier planet.

Compost is so nourishing because of what is called humus. Humus is the part of soils made from decomposition. It restores nutrients to the malnourished soil, helps the soil retain moisture and even keep diseases from affecting your plants.

To get started you’ll want to choose how you’ll go about creating your compost. You can either opt for a tumbling composter, which takes a lot of the manual work out of turning your pile, or creating your compost on top of the ground, where it will have easy access to earthworms and easily drain excess water.

When creating a compost pile you will want it to be at least 3 feet long by 3 feet wide. You will also want your pile to be about 3 feet high. To help keep your pile neat and contained you can build, or buy, a fence-like box for your compost pile.  

When you have your compost “storage” of choice ready to go you’ll also want to have a good amount of scraps to begin building your pile up to those 3 feet I mentioned or fill up your bin. The best way to do this is to keep two sealable containers in your kitchen to toss scraps in for your pile. However, you don’t want to toss just anything into this container.


What you can put into your Dry (also called Brown) scrap container:

  • Eggshells

  • Tea leaves and/or coffee grounds

  • Dead flowers

  • Cardboard and paper goods (they must be unwaxed)

  • 100% cotton and/or wool (no synthetics)


What you can put in your Moist (also called Green) scrap container:

  • Vegetable scraps

  • Fruit scraps

  • Grass and leaves

  • Manure from herbivorous animals (cows, horses, rabbits, etc)


What you should never put in your containers:

  • Meat, fish or bone scraps

  • Manure from carnivorous animals (cats, dogs, etc)

  • Waxed, sticky or treated paper products and/or wood

  • Citrus peels or onions


Begin your pile with a layer of sticks and straw if you will be building it on bare ground. This will allow your compost to properly drain and avoid becoming oversaturated. Next, alternate layers of moist/green and dry/brown materials to an even 50/50 ratio.  

You will want turn over your pile every few weeks to allow for oxygenation. If your pile begins steaming that means the decomposition process is in action!  When it begins to turn a crumbly black in the center and earthworms are showing up compost has begun to/is fully formed and ready to use in your garden!




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Posted by Thomas Murphy on 7/17/2016

Growing your own vegetables is a wonderful thing. You get to choose which seeds to sow, spend time outside, put in some hard work and then reap the rewards all summer and fall. In spite of this, many new gardeners find themselves planting too much or too little of different vegetables. There's much appeal to going to the store to pick out seeds. It almost seems like magic: these little seed packets will turn into baskets full of food, all for just a few dollars. Follow these tips to learn how to grow what you want the first time around so you won't find yourself begging neighbors to take all those extra zucchinis off your hands. What do you like to eat? Experimenting with new recipes is great. And so is the temptation when you see seed packets for an exotic vegetable you've never tried before. But before you dedicate a whole row of your garden to hybrid turnips, think about whether or not you'll really eat all of that. Instead, plant the veggies you and your family love to eat consistently. Before you start planting, think carefully about the amount of space you have in your garden (I usually draw a diagram and label the rows). This is going to involve some necessary research on your part. If you love summer squash, you may think you need a whole row. Squash plants, however, tend to creep outwards vigorously, producing a ton of fruit and also encroaching on other rows if you're not careful. Similarly, you may find that you simply don't have enough room for some vegetables. We all love the first sweet corn of the season, but most of us don't have enough room in our backyard gardens to feasibly grow corn. Plan for next year Once you've tilled the soil, planted the seeds, and taken care of your plants all spring, you may think the only thing left to do is harvest the vegetables. This is a crucial time, however, to think about next year. What did you have too much of? Too little? Did you find that some vegetables simply wouldn't grow in your garden? (I tried twice, with little luck, to plant pole beans but found that they just didn't like my soil.) Take note of these findings for next year. If one part of your garden receives more sunlight, try rotating crops to see if you get different results. Don't worry if your garden isn't perfect the first time around. In fact, it's best to just let go of that image of the perfect garden. Tending a garden isn't another chore to cause stress in your life, it's a simple and relaxing way to get outside more.